Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Chris Cowan’

Is Racism Natural..?

Updated: 9 November 2015 As a part-time teacher, teaching psychological and sociological approaches to prejudice & discrimination, every year I found myself confronted with this question from one or more of my A-Level students. With posters on some Internet discussion forums making statements like: “I think they [British National Party, Britain First, etc] is only saying what most people think but are too afraid to say” , it seems appropriate to me to revisit the students’ question from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective. It was explaining Henri Tajfel & John Turner’s Social Identity Theory (1979) in relation to the formation of in-groups and out-groups that usually triggered the student’s question as to whether racism is natural. In essence, Tajfel & Turner say that, simply by identifying yourself with one group as opposed to another, your group becomes the in-group and the other becomes the out-group. According to Tajfel & Turner, this basic act of social categorisation – one group has one identity label and the other group has a different identity label – is enough to bring about prejudice and discrimination. Because we invest something of our self in the groups to which we belong, we need our in-groups to be at least… Read More

Is Collectivism being overtaken by Individualism?

Updated: 9 November 2016 It’s been a given in cross-cultural research in the behavioural sciences that Individualism has increasingly dominated in the West since at least the end of World War II while the rest of the world has tended to be collectivistic. In the context of the early 21st Century, this dichotomy provokes 2 key questions:- Was it ever as simple as: West, individualistic; rest of the world, collectivistic – and, if so, how did it get to be so? Is Collectivism being overtaken by Individualism – and, if so, what are the driving factors? Geert Hofstede, Gert Jan Hofstede & Michael Minkov (2010) define Individualism as “the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups”. In individualistic societies, the stress is put on personal achievements and individual rights. People are expected to stand up for themselves and their immediate family, and to choose their own affiliations. By contrast, in collectivistic societies, individuals are seen to act predominantly as members of a lifelong and cohesive group or organisation. People have large extended families which provide safety in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. Individualism, according to Ellen Meiksins Wood (1973), is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology or social outlook that emphasises the… Read More

The Parks Primary School

The Meshing of Two Primary Schools written with Cathy Byrne Updated: 11 September 2004 The Parks is one of the most complete project reports on the use of the Gravesian approach anywhere in the world and many people have suggested that I must have been much more involved than the report suggests. Well, I wasn’t! This is Cathy Byrne’s story, not mine.  My RED would love to report that Cathy was on the phone to me every night asking how to do *this* and how to handle such-and-such a person. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that. My influence, as Cathy has acknowledged widely, came through the training programme and then as an occasional adviser in the background. I like to think of the remarkable story of The Parks as being a first class example of just how much you can accomplish when you really grasp these concepts at an intuitive level. Most afternoons Cathy Byrne, Headteacher of The Parks Primary School on Hull’s Orchard Park Estate, sees her pupils off the premises with something of the pastorly air of a vicar bidding farewell to the congregation as they exit a church service. However, most mornings Cathy is also in the playground, welcoming… Read More

Jerry Coursen on Clare W Graves

June 2004 Jerry Coursen PhD has been on my perceptual radar since shortly after I was first exposed to Spiral Dynamics in Spring 1998. An irregular but highly-thought-provoking contributor to the SD e-lists, his postings struck me as being of a far deeper structure than many others. Over the years we’ve occasionally exchanged thoughts both off- and on-list; and, in Spring 2001, I was privileged to see Jerry make a presentation at Don Beck’s First Annual Confab in Dallas, Texas. His postulation that C-P/RED assumes leadership in the B-O/PURPLE tribe to begin the transition to a C-P/RED power-based system was something I’d not heard before yet fitted with my own experiences in PURPLE/RED organisations. From there on in, I was more than convinced of the calibre of the man’s thinking! The following interview was conducted with Jerry by e-mail during May and June 2004 after he agreed to let me publish A Spiral Perspective on Human Development…? , a piece he wrote about the way he understands the biopsychosocial model of Clare W Graves. The views he expresses in the interview about the need to ‘debug’ and revise Graves in the light of today’s science may be contentious to some; to… Read More

Don Beck & South Africa

Written with input from Don Beck Updated: 9 March 2020 Each participant in designing the South African transition from Apartheid to multi-cultural democracy during the early-mid-1990s will have his/her own version of what happened – and it doesn’t always suit the politicians to give too much credit to the ‘backroom boys’! What is beyond doubt is that Don Beck was involved and used the Spiral Dynamics model (Don Beck & Chris Cowan, 1996) developed from Clare W Graves’ research (1970) to replace the skin pigmentation and ethnic origin categories with an understanding of the value systems (vMEMES) and ways of thinking universally accessible to the human race. Beck (Don Beck et al, 2018) recalls: “…when I was working peacefully to dismantle Apartheid in South Africa…I used the neutrality of colours to escape racial profiling. I wanted the leaders working for peaceful solutions to Apartheid to be aware of the different codes existing in people, even of the same race. Only then could we get a realistic picture of what was happening. “Zulus tended to be stereotyped as a tribal ethnic group. Yet millions of Zulus lived in urban South African settings with Westernised urban values. The Afrikaner of European ancestry was… Read More

The Process of Change

Updated: 5 April 2019 A French translation of this article by Luc Taesch is available at What is it leads us to change? Do we just suddenly wake up one morning and decide to change? Do we change because we want to or because we have to? Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), co-developers of Spiral Dynamics, identified 7 factors which are part of the change process. Beck (2009) later identified another 3 factors; and this article will use Beck’s 10 factors to set a broad frame for understanding change and how and why it takes place. 1. Potential The individual – or, for that matter, the organisation – has to have the capability to change. Beck & Cowan, from the seminal work of Clare W Graves, identified that someone could be in one of 3 states:- Open to the possibilities of change – they are ready for something new. The Open state is often characterised by the acceptance that change is inevitable and a relatively non-judgemental tolerance of differences. Arrested – caught up so much in their present way of thinking and being that change – without the introduction of dissonance – simply will not occur. This is particularly… Read More


Updated: 2 April 2018 This vMEME is barely present in the world yet. Although there are increasing numbers of people in certain circles – eg: Integral salons – who claim to think in this way, there is yet to be sufficient scientific evidence to say for sure what the TURQUOISE way of thinking is. From the Gravesian approach Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) posit it will be on the collectivistic self-sacrificial side of the Spiral and it will be a more complex way of thinking than Self-Actualisation/YELLOW. Lawrence Kohlberg & Clark Power (1981, p257) note it is “much less unitary and definable”. Beyond this, with only tiny samples and anecdotal evidence, it is as much an untested hypothesis as a reality and descriptors must be read with great caution. Humanistic psychologists like Abraham Maslow (1943) and Carl Rogers (1959) considered Self-Actualisation to be the pinnacle of development of the human mind. When someone had become all that they could be and fulfilled all their potential, then they could be said to have completely self-actualised. Maslow’s (1956) attempt to be specific about how a self-actualised person would think defined a way of thinking he thought of as ‘being’ rather than ‘becoming’. However, by attempting… Read More


Updated: 30 March 2018 One nomenclature Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) have used for the YELLOW vMEME, the first of the 2nd Tier, is ‘Flexiflow’. This captures both the incredible flexibility in this level of thinking and the sense of peak performance Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1993) identifies athletes, musicians, etc, experience when they enter the state of ‘flow’. In both his posthumous works (1971b/2002, p25; 1978/2005, p148), Clare W Graves unequivocally equated his seventh level G-T (YELLOW) to “Maslow’s self-actualising man”. Jane Loevinger (1976, p46) equated her Autonomous Stage of Ego Development with Self-Actualisation and Graves (1978/2005, p444) equated G-T with Autonomous…so it’s clear that Graves and Loevinger, both of them steeped in years of hard research, very much felt they were talking about the same way of thinking as Abraham Maslow (1943; 1954; 1956). However, this equation is not without controversy; nor is the term ‘Self-Actualisation’ used here in quite the same way as it is most commonly in Psychology. So there is some need to clarify our understanding(s) of ‘Self-Actualisation’ before we can benefit fully from this equation with YELLOW. Goldstein’s Self-Actualisation The term ‘Self-Actualisation’ was originally introduced by the Organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein (1934) for the motive to… Read More

Theory FAQs

Click the question to go to its answer… 1. What is the relationship between the Gravesian approach, Spiral Dynamics and Spiral Dynamics integral? 2. What’s the difference between 1st Tier and 2nd Tier in the Gravesian approach? 3. What’s the difference between Integrated SocioPsychology and Integral Psychology and where does Integrated SocioPsychology fit in with the concepts of Integrated Spirituality? 1. What is the relationship between the Gravesian approach, Spiral Dynamics and Spiral Dynamics integral? Updated: 16/05/16 Just as the ‘Freudian approach’ is to do with the work of Sigmund Freud himself and/or developments of Freud’s work which adhere very closely to the principles of his theories, so the ‘Gravesian approach’ is to do with Clare W Graves’ research and/or developments of it. Spiral Dynamics was developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) from Graves’ work by linking it with the new science of Memetics developed by the likes of Richard Dawkins (1976) and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (1993). They coined the term ‘vMEME’ for the Gravesian systems of thinking and saw them as attracting memes pertinent to the vMEME’s motivation. Thus, they extended Graves’ concept of his systems (themas) having preferred schemas. Beck & Cowan also colour-coded the levels to make them easier… Read More

3 Stage Theories of Development

Updated: 29 March 2018 The work of Clare W Graves (1970) and its Spiral Dynamics ‘build’  (Don Beck & Chris Cowan, 1996) theorise about motivational systems and their emergence. Where the emergent system reaches its nodal peak in matching the life conditions (internal and or external), this can be considered an ‘existential state’, level or stage. In the period Graves was constructing his concept from the results of his research, several other developmentalists were coming up with very similar theories and models. Unlike Graves who perceived ‘stages’ as merely markers in the processes of emergence, however, these other researchers tended to see development in more or less discreet stages which were distinct from each other. In spite of the limitations of these stage theories, the findings of their developers offer much additional insight into the characteristics of vMEMES, vMEME transition states and the workings of the Spiral. These additional insights are discussed in the pages on vMEMES. The purpose of these pages is to describe the basic structures of what are arguably the 3 most important stage models and to provide some background and critiquing of these theories. The Comparison Map places these and some other leading developmental models into a schematic… Read More